I’ve always wanted to be beautiful. What little girl hasn’t? I mean from the early days I’ve seen princesses in their gorgeous gowns with their “Prince Charmings”. As I grew I became bombarded with images of magazine models that were airbrushed to perfection. Voices from without and within told me that I wasn’t up to standard and years of comparing myself to others truly caused me to think of myself as sub standard. As I’ve continued to grow, change, mature and walk towards health and wholeness I’ve been finding MY beautiful. It’s amazing how many truths it takes to replace ONE lie. Accepting compliments and feeling beautiful are much harder than believing that I’m sloppy, lazy, still fat and a hot mess. Literally I look in the mirror and still see “her” sometimes. The “her” that only wore jeans with elastic or sweat pants. The “her” that felt bad physically and emotionally most of her day. The “her” that had a husband that loved her, but didn’t realize the full potential and safety of that love. Oh how I long for the day when that image is wiped from my brain and the reflection I see is only one of a “Jesus” girl full of peace, love and joy.
So what is my beautiful? I’ve been wrestling with this lately. The numbers are changing again but I’m still not in clothes that I wore while living in Washington. I’m weaker in terms of lifting, physical endurance and stamina. I’m still making up ground and it is a very slow process. Also I’ve been thinking about what people see versus what I see. Not only in the physical realm but can people tell I’m set apart, different, loving and looking more and more like Jesus daily? That’s more important than achieving a number, a PR in a race, or any of the dreams I have. I want to leave a legacy of love, trust, service and beauty. I want the world to be a better place because I was in it and I want my kids to know how special they are. It’s my heart’s cry that I can lead them to an understanding that Jesus loves them and that they can have a relationship with him. To know and be known. To lay my head to the pillow at night knowing I’ve honored God, myself and others…that’s beautiful.
My friends and pastors Tim Moore and Joe Chambers helped me train for a half marathon in March-July 2013. While on a run in 2013 Tim asked if I could realize emotionally, spiritually or physically the transformation I have undergone. He mentioned how the change is very evident to other people. He said that almost weekly he and his wife Melissa could see a difference. I’ve often thought about this since. It causes me to grapple with and honestly inspect my thoughts and feelings. I’ve been wondering what might be clogging my continued progress. I’ve blogged about my thoughts as to why I gained some weight back and could not achieve my goal at the original time. The finish line is in sight and if I want to cross it, I’ve got to regain focus. A new sense of passion and purpose is coming from celebrating successes and making small, realistic goals. I think even after 4 years there are days this changes feels like a dream.
In terms of spiritual and emotional progress I do believe there has been growth as well. I know that I am a much different woman in the areas of my thinking, habits, approach to food, realization of my food addiction, etc. than I was in Oct. of 2010. I don’t say that lightly. I still struggle and there are days that I want to overeat. However, the conviction/realization of my error comes so quickly and I am able to slow down and realize that the food didn’t taste as good as success feels. My body is NOT my own. I’ve been bought with a price and for me to just mindlessly eat food, or even worse, to make a purposeful choice to overeat or eat unhealthy foods is an issue to me now. Yes, I’m aware that this sounds crazy, legalistic and super spiritual to some of you. For me…it’s part of my faith. It’s part of my daily living out my love and honor for the One who saved me, redeemed me and changed my life forever!!! If I don’t focus on clean eating, portion size and using moderation I will derail. I still have trigger foods and I avoid buffets at all costs. It’s about dying to myself and submitting to God’s will and not my own. Putting my desires aside to do the right thing not the easy thing.
Over the course of the last year I have been faced with circumstances that have deepened my faith. Truly pressing in to a life that is not my own has been difficult but so freeing. I’m finding more and more consistently that my responses are gentle, kind and purposeful. Yes, I still get angry and unfortunately act on that. I’m far from perfect but I’m progressing. I’m spending more time being mindful of who I am and who I want to become. Eliminating negative influences and renewing my mind through God’s word is a form of soul care that I’m adopting. Guarding my time and making living a full life a priority is important. Daily I’m looking for the good in people and praying to love them just as they are, and if called upon to serve them without expectation.
I still struggle with seeing myself as I am currently. I realize I’m smaller because I remember the sizes I used to wear. However, there are times I still don’t really “get it”. Once JoyAnn and I were shopping at Target. I kept holding up these clothes and thinking “these must be for really skinny people”. I brought some things into the dressing room and some of them were the right size and some of them weren’t. It was surprising to find out that I’m somewhere between a large and a medium. Although women’s clothing sizing is ridiculous. I have everything from a medium to an XL in my closet. It’s just hard to know what will fit and I don’t always have the time to try everything on before I leave the store. It was nice to know that I can fit into different things. I’m not pleased that most medium/large shirts are sleeveless or have very short sleeves. My arms will NEVER be what I want them to be (without skin removal surgery). My son James says they are “flappy dough arms”. I’m not interested in “skinny jeans” EVER. I don’t even want to try anything that says “mid rise”. The scales and/or tag might say a certain number but my body tells a VERY different story. Years of obesity, five children, two sets of twins, shame, guilt, up and down weight fluctuations really take a toll or your physique.
I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I KNOW that it is worth every tear, every drop of sweat, every run, jog, walk, lifting session. However, I don’t want to become prideful, obsessed or “miss the mark” when it comes to the true point/depth of this transformation process. Skin removal surgery would be helpful in terms of cosmetic, but is it the right thing for me? Nathan loves me, even though I look like a Shar Pei. He is the only one (minus a doctor or physician) that will ever have to see the not so pretty, complete picture of who I am physically. It is a gift to have a spouse such as Nathan that sees me physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally and loves me unconditionally. On the other hand after YEARS of hard work, wouldn’t it be worth the pain of the surgeries to finally realize my goal and SEE it with my own eyes? We don’t have insurance, so is the cost worth it? Are the scars worth it? Should I endure pain and long recovery times just to fit into a certain size or wear a sleeveless shirt and not be ashamed? Maybe, JUST maybe the issue isn’t my sags and bags…it’s still a wounded heart??? I’m not sure. I’m praying through all of this. I know MY beautiful is in there. Just typing these words seems prideful, selfish and brings a twinge of guilt. This journey is about so much more that the way I look. I want people to know that.
I need to update my site with more recent pictures. I need to keep the transformation ever before me so I don’t lose sight of who I am and who I was. Beauty is really in the eye of the beholder and I pray that can see the beauty the wonder, the joy and progress all around me. I pray that I can see me as Jesus sees me and that I can honor the compliments others give. Also I pray that I can see the beauty, joy and grace in others and help to cultivate change, growth and love all around me. I’ve been forever changed by this process and the outpouring of love, service, help and support I’ve received. If change is possible for me….I KNOW it’s available for you. May we all realize the beauty that is possible. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. I was at 285.6 and I am at….whatever I am today!!!